An increase in Delaware’s minimum wage to $8.25 an hour from the current federal floor of $7.25 “appears headed on a fast track for approval,” Delaware Online reports, after it passed the state Senate and garnered support from some key House lawmakers who had previously blocked it. It also has support from the governor.
State Rep. Byron Short (D) chaired the House Economic Development Committee that voted the bill down in June and has voted twice not to release it out of committee. He now says the “time is right” to raise the wage, and another committee member who previously voted against it has now reversed course. A spokesperson for Gov. Jack Markell (D) said he “supports an increase in 2014 without undue delay.” One lawmaker predicted the bill could pass in January.
The state’s lawmakers haven’t raised its minimum wage since 2006, when it rose from $6.15 to $7.15. It became $7.25 by default when the federal wage was raised.
If the state raises its wage, it will join a growing number of other states and cities taking action to push pay higher while movement stalls at the federal level. California recently raised its wage to $10 an hour and lawmakers have taken steps toward higher wages in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Voters have also approved of a raises in New Jersey, two cities in California, Albuquerque, and a small town in Washington state where the wage was raised to $15 an hour. Some other states are also working on potential raises.
Meanwhile, President Obama and Democratic Congressmen have backed a raise to $10 an hour, but it was unanimously voted down by House Republicans. The federal wage hasn’t been raised in four years, but if it had kept up with inflation it would be over $10 an hour today and if it had kept pace with increasing worker productivity it would be over $20.
The pay level has increasing importance as more and more jobs are created in low-wage sectors and higher pay work dies out in the post-recession economy. Low-wage workers have also put the issue on the map with a wave of strikes in the fast food industry and against the giant retailer Walmart calling for higher pay, among other things.